With her Jersey-girl attitude and romantic Italian soul, Kayla Calabrese brings her own flair to the country music scene. This down-to-earth artist has a sassy edge that shines through her lyrics, stage presence, and fresh demeanor.
Being an artist has always been an aspiration of Kayla’s. It wasn’t until age 16 that this “hairbrush singer” made the bold decision to make her dreams a reality. With a go-getter spirit, Kayla decided to take voice lessons, and a few years later, made the brave move to Music City to pursue her passion for music.
Upon moving to Nashville, Kayla began recording with Grammy nominated music producer Kent Wells, best known for producing Dolly Parton. Wells produced Kayla’s first EP Kayla Calabrese, featuring her first single “Kiss Me,” and was a great experience she describes as something she will never forget. Pleased by the success, Kayla was determined to keep pushing forward. A few years later, after teaming up with producer Jimmy Nichols, Kayla was ready to release a project she had been developing, starting with her Fall 2014 release “Whisper.” Kayla wasn’t the only one moved by the creation with Jimmy Nichols—Jimmy was equally impressed.
As a musician, Kayla can show her strong disposition in one song, yet become vulnerable with the next. “My favorite part about being an artist is that I can express my feelings and emotions in a song that not only means something to me but others can relate in their own personal way,” says Calabrese. This raw emotion can be found in her newest single “Give,” on radio now.
Lucky 13 with Kayla Calabrese
NMG: What was the first song you ever performed?
Kayla Calabrese: The first song I ever performed was the duet ‘For Good’ from Wicked. I sung Glinda’s part and my friend Leanne Sung Elphaba’s. My music teacher wanted my first performance to be a duet so I wouldn’t be as nervous going up on stage for the first time at 17 years old.
NMG: What are your musical influences?
Kayla Calabrese: My musical influences are Idina Menzel, Martina McBride, Sara Evans, Carrie Underwood, Sara Bareilles and Loretta Lynn. I love how different they all are from each other and how different their songwriting is. I learn a lot and am inspired by all of them in different ways.
NMG: How do you balance your music career with your other obligations in life?
Kayla Calabrese: I balance my career and other obligations in life by perfecting time management. I am also an ER nurse, so i have 3 days a week where I am in the hospital for 12+ hours taking care of patients, some in some pretty bad circumstances, so being able to balance my music career with that is really a great release. I love being able to work one day and then go to a radio station or perform the next. It’s a busy life, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
NMG: What are 3 things that you have to have with you at all times/never leave home without?
Kayla Calabrese: 3 things that I never leave home without are 1. my phone 2. my wallet 3. lotion.
NMG: As a child growing up, music surrounds us; What type of music did you hear the most back then? How does it differ from what you listen to now?
Kayla Calabrese: As a child growing up I listened to a lot of what my friend listened to. I was a huge Hanson, N’Sync, and Backstreet Boys fan. I actually thought for a year straight that I was going to marry Zac Hanson. My friend and I got into arguments over who was going to marry him. haha. I also loved Clay Aiken growing up. Clay Aiken was the first concert I ever attended. Music I listened to back then is different from what I listen to now because now I actually LISTEN to the music, lyrics and what message the artist is saying. I listen to lyrics first, instead of primarily just how the song sounds.
NMG: What made you first realize you wanted to pursue a career in music?
Kayla Calabrese: I always wanted to sing and perform, but I was too scared to tell any one. My mom took me to see Wicked on Broadway with the original Broadway cast (Idina Menzel) and I remember thinking throughout the entire show that I wanted to be on stage performing. When the show was over I turned to my mom and asked for voice lessons. The rest is history 🙂
NMG: What do you feel distinguishes “an artist” from just a musician?
Kayla Calabrese: I feel like an artist is someone who is sure of who they are and how they want to be portrayed. An artist sings and writes from their heart and wants to move people through what they create. For me if I can touch one person each time I perform, then I did my job as an artist.
NMG: If you had the opportunity to change something about the music industry what would it be?
Kayla Calabrese: I would give new artists a fair opportunity to be heard and to be taken seriously. I would also given women in country more of a voice, after all tomatoes make a salad more colorful 😉
NMG: How do you like to enjoy your relaxation time away from the music?
Kayla Calabrese: In the summer I love going to the beach. Southport, NC, Wilmington, NC, and my hometown in NJ are some of my favorite places. I love to relax by reading a book, or traveling to see family. I’m an outdoor person so if I can be outside whether that be going to collect my own spring water, or just going on a hike, I’m happy.
NMG: Do you have other interests or talents you would like to share with us?
Kayla Calabrese: I can walk on my hands! 🙂 I also play the guitar, drums, piano, mandolin and ukulele.
NMG: If you could perform with anyone in the world – either dead, alive, or broke up – who would it be? Why? (Name up to 3)
Kayla Calabrese: Idina Menzel (hands down!), Martina McBride, and Sara Bareilles
NMG: What are your up-to-date performance plans? New Releases? Tours ? News?
Kayla Calabrese: I am promoting my new single “Give.” I have a new EP titled Glass Stiletto coming out SOON! And I’m gearing up to go into the studio to record a Christmas EP 🙂 SO keep an eye and ear out for new music!
NMG: How do you think you would like to be remembered by everyone if something were to happen to you suddenly?
Kayla Calabrese: I want to be remembered as someone who stayed true to who I am. A happy-go-lucky, go with the flow type of person. I would want to be remembered as someone who made a difference for doing all of the right things 🙂
Check out Kayla’s Single “Give” Now